- Museum number
- Object: The Solicitor Committed, or the Dumb Screen
Satire on Nicholas Paxton, solicitor to the Treasury, and his refusal to answer questions from the Committee of Secrecy enquiring into the conduct of Robert Walpole. Paxton and a woman are seated at a table in a cell in Newgate; his mouth padlocked in the manner of an "ideal servant". He holds a paper lettered, "Draught of Bill to restrain Libty of Press" and at his feet is a flag lettered, "The Corruptors Banner/Severe Penal Laws/Rigorous Prosecutions/Bribery & Corruption". On the table are two lighted candles and three papers. The lady holds a paper lettered, "Bill of Pains & Penalty agt. Bp. Atterbury, Kelly, &c.", (a reference to the permanent exile imposed on the Jacobite bishop Atterbury, and the imprisonment of his associate George Kelly in the early 1720s) and says to Paxton, "I fear they'll inflict the same on you.". Other papers are lettered "for Gazetters Writters 8000 pay'd 5000. Robbery Premiums 15,000 pay'd 6,000. for Prosecutions 40,000 unaccounted for. for W[e]nd[ove]r &c. Election 20,000 spent 15,000. for other Secret Services." and "Indictment against ye Craftsman". On the left, a boy, describing himself as "Hayne's devil come to see old Nic" (i.e. an employee of the printer of the Craftsman) is prevented from entering by a guard saying, "they must have neither Pen, Ink, nor paper". A man looks through a barred window saying, "Paxton, the Tool, He won't Answer". Two pictures hang on the wall: one showing Walpole fastening the lock to the mouth of Paxton who already holds a money bag, and the other showing two men riding towards Wendover. Beneath the latter is a roaring fire with a shovel and poker leaning beside it and a fender in front. Four lines of verse neneath. 24 April 1742
- Production date
Height: 163 millimetres (image)
Height: 185 millimetres (trimmed?)
Width: 280 millimetres (image)
Width: 289 millimetres (trimmed?)
- Curator's comments
- The references to Wendover concern the result there in the general election of 1734. The election was declared void when John Boteler, the successful government candidate, was discovered to have inadequate property qualification. He failed to be elected in 1735 and, feeling that Walpole had failed to support him, gave evidence to the secret committee in 1742 that £500 had been supplied to him from the secret service money.
For the traditional emblem of the good servant with lips sealed by a padlock or muzzle, see BM Satires 1120.
See also BM Satire 2544 and 2545
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
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